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Google NYC Tech Talks Message Board › Of seats and RSVPs..

Of seats and RSVPs..

Ari S.
ashamash
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 1
Hi All --

As several of you have observed and commented, we've had some empty seats for the past couple of Google NYC Tech Talk events. We'd love to improve this situation, we're looking for suggestions on how to proceed.

  • The room at Google - by fire marshall law - is limited to 260 people. Due to this, we limit the RSVP's to 250 (we need some folks from Google to attend as well, e.g. the speaker, catering staff, event organizers, etc.)
  • The room only has room for approximately 150 chairs. If everybody who RSVPs comes, some will have to sit on the stairs (which are quite comfortable), or stand in the wings.

Due to the fire code restrictions, we cannot raise the RSVP limit, but we also don't want to turn anybody away if there is room available. So what should we do? Some ideas that came from you folks in the community:

  • Attendance fee: A suggestion from a fellow meetup organizer is to charge a minimal fee - less than the price of coffee in NYC - to attend. From his experience, this will raise the attendance to RSVP ration to 90%. An idea we toyed around with is to collect the money and donate it to a charity - after Google matches it several times over. However, we ultimately decided this is not feasible, since collecting money for these events is simply not a Googley thing to do.
  • 3 strikes and you're out: Another suggestion from an attendee is to do what other meetups do - 3 RSVP's with noshows ban you from the meetup. Even if we were to simplify the logistics of this (one suggestion was QR code the name tags and scan the ones not picked up - a great suggestion on how to automate this process), this is also not a Googley thing to do, and is also really easy to bypass (e.g. by signing up with a different ID).
  • Another attendee suggested we enable RSVP's only a week or two before the event, the theory here is that prospective attendees will have a better understanding of their schedule and calendar when the event is not far out in the future. For past events, we've allowed RSVP's as soon as the event was posted, perhaps this was part of the issue.

So we're giving the last option a shot.

Any other ideas? We'd love your help in this.

Regards,
Ari

Leonid B.
lbarinstein
Brooklyn, NY
Post #: 1
Hi guys,

All those ideas a very good and I agree with Ari. When I registered for this event two days ago there were about 70 people in front of me. What is interesting is that the line was moving very slow at first. However, to my surprise, I got an email an hour before the event informing me that the spot had opened up. When the presentation started there were a lot of empty seats. Which is very sad, because lots of people wanted to attend and could not because there were no spots available.

Ari, I would advise you to maybe encourage people to come in to the entrance even if they are still on waiting list and let them in if there are available spots. Let’s say 30 minutes after the event starts. This way everyone can insure a seat if they come on time and the rest can still attend if someone will not show up.
Kerren
user 13532760
New York, NY
Post #: 1
I second "Leonid's" idea.
Ari S.
ashamash
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 2
Hi guys,
<snip>

Ari, I would advise you to maybe encourage people to come in to the entrance even if they are still on waiting list and let them in if there are available spots. Let’s say 30 minutes after the event starts. This way everyone can insure a seat if they come on time and the rest can still attend if someone will not show up.
Hi Leonid -

It's an interesting idea, thanks for your suggestion! I'll discuss w/my co-organizers to to figure out the logistics, e.g. how do we handle building security (they really like advanced notice for large groups) and badges. There is the possibility of being forced to turn people away this way - which would very much be against Google's culture.

The late "rush" on the waiting list is (I'm guessing) due to meetup's "reminder" emails going out a day or two before the event asking the recipient to confirm that they are coming (with links in the email simplifying the "I'm not coming" response). Perhaps a simple tweak we can make is to ask meetup.com to send out the reminder emails earlier in the week, giving more time for the waiting list.

Regards,
Ari
Sergei
user 8607492
New York, NY
Post #: 1
My suggestion is to increase the amount of people that can attend the event by separating them into two groups: first 250 people will be directed to the lecture hall and see the speaker live; second group would go to a large audience where the event will be broadcasted live on a large screen. The latter group could interact with the live presenter via video conferencing (TelePresence would work nicely).
First 250 people who sign up would be guaranteed a spot at the "live" lecture hall. This could be expanded to remote locations as well.
A former member
Post #: 1
how about on the day of the event, send out an email with a link where you need confirm your seat. If you don't confirm by 2 hours (or whatever time) before event then you lose your spot. That way you can reserve early, and are forced to make sure you can attend.

-Eric
Brian C.
user 13140053
New York, NY
Post #: 1
This is a common problem with entertainment events and invitations or even commercial flights.

There are reservations and a waiting list, just keep a count of how many people appeared at the event. At event start anyone on the waiting list can take the spot of those that reserved but didn't appear.

If you update the meetup site 15-30 mins before start time with the number of current attendants, people on the waiting list can decide if its worth making it there.
A former member
Post #: 2
Two suggestions:

1) If the goal is to make these events as accessible as possible, rent / build a much larger space, plus Livestream and answer questions via Twitter or use some other tech solution. (Of course, this adds costs to someone's budget midyear, typically not an easy thing to do, even for Google!)

2) If budgetary restraints are firm, overbook by average no-show rate and allow entrance first come / first serve. (The only problem with that is crowd control!)

Look at it this way. It's a great problem to have.
Sergei I.
user 13769361
New York, NY
Post #: 1
Requiring people to confirm 1-2 days in advance (same day may not be feasible for some) - with a couple reminders - would allow the waiting list to advance the night before the event. If someone forgets to confirm once, they probably won't forget the next time. Most people would know if they are planning to come the following day.
David W.
user 13427815
Brooklyn, NY
Post #: 1
Android app for attendees. GPS tracking during the evening of the event. JK JK :)
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